Duluth family’s Italian porchetta recipe leaves home for supermarketsFor the Vecchi family, no special gathering or party would be complete without porchetta, a savory, spicy, roasted pork. Now one Vecchi, brimming with energy and enthusiasm, wants to share it with everybody.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
For the Vecchi family, no special gathering or party would be complete without porchetta, a savory, spicy, roasted pork.
Weddings, holidays, reunions, even fishing and hunting trips.
That’s the way it has been for decades, even before Italians Giovanni and Adelina Vecchi immigrated to the United States in 1920 and settled in the Iron Range.
“My parents brought that with them, like a lot of people from that area did,” said their son Tom Vecchi, a retired Duluth architect.
Adelina made porchetta — which means young pig in Italian — the way it was done back home in the Marche region of central Italy: young tender pork is boned and butterflied, stuffed and hand-rolled with fresh herbs and seasonings, then roasted.
“My mother was an incredible cook,” Vecchi said. “I learned from them so for years I’ve been making porchetta.”
His son, Tom Vecchi Jr., in turn, learned from him. Now the younger Vecchi, 49, brimming with energy and enthusiasm, wants to share it with everybody.
Using his grandparents’ authentic Italian recipe, he started making porchetta for local restaurants two years ago, including Valentini’s in Duluth
“They’re great,” owner Carol Valentini said of Vecchi’s porchetta. “[It’s] made the way porchetta is supposed to be made, with fresh herbs. And there’s an art to tying a porchetta. It’s kind of a lost art.”
Last spring Tom Jr. began a partnership with Tino Lettieri, an Italian-born former professional soccer player now in the food businesses. In a matter of months, that led to full-scale USDA-approved production of the Vecchi family porchetta which began arriving at grocery stores in late November.
Their label, Tino and Tomasso (Italian for Thomas), offers porchetta roasts with pop-up timers that cook up in one hour. They also have a turkey version called turchetta. At $5.99/pound, the two-pound roasts run about $12 and serve four to six people.
So far, the roasts are at 30 Super One stores, Mount Royal Fine Foods in Duluth and at Lunds, Byerly’s and Kowalski’s grocery stores in the Twin Cities.
“The product’s in the case, but there’s nobody there telling them what it is,” said Tom Jr., who suggests serving porchetta hot or cold, thinly-sliced on hard rolls.
So for the last two weekends, Vecchi has been at local grocery stores offering up samples and telling people about the product. And he plans to continue that in weekends to come.
At Kenwood Super One on Sunday, about 75 sold in five hours.
“I love porchetta,” said Bill Garnett of Duluth who bought the turkey version. “I have had them from other places.”
Garnett, who attended East High School with Vecchi, had heard that his former classmate was making porchetta. “I didn’t realize he was going big like this,” said Garnett, impressed.
Other comments — such as “Hmmm, it’s good,” “That’s my Christmas dinner,” and “Let’s get one” — could be heard from others who sampled the product and bought one.
But perhaps the real test comes from the senior Vecchi, who has made his family’s porchetta for friends, including Jeno Paulucci.
“It’s very good,” he said of his son’s product. “It’s very close to what you would make at home. In fact, its hard to tell the difference.”